Chronic Cat Vomiting

Cat vomiting is relatively common and can indicate a simple problem such as hairballs, or a serious problem such as organ failure. If your cat is vomiting more than usual, be aware of symptoms that help you diagnose the cause.

Common Causes of Cat Vomiting

Cats vomit more than most animals, and most healthy cats usually vomit once or twice a week without suffering from any illness. If the vomit consists of a dry cough and frequent retching with a small amount of yellow bile, your cat is simply trying to cough up a hairball. You may even see the hairball in the vomit. This is very common, especially in long haired breeds, since cats are such consummate groomers.

If your cat frequently vomits right after eating, he is just regurgitating his food. This happens with cats who eat too quickly or eat exclusively dry food, which expands when mixing with liquids in the stomach, causing discomfort. To reduce this, wet down the dry food or feed him with wet food.

Though more serious but easily treatable, parasites can also cause excessive vomiting. If your cat seems healthy except for vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy, this might be caused by a type of worm, which can often be found in the stool or vomit. A simple fecal exam will reveal the problem, and a dewormer will treat it.

Serious Symptoms of Cat Vomiting

If your cat has been exposed to lots of other cats, such as in a boarding facility, he might have contracted feline panleukopenia, also known as feline distemper. This can cause fever, dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases, it can even lead to death, especially in young kittens. Many cats are vaccinated against this, but if your cat hasn't been, this could be the cause.

One of the most common causes of cat vomiting, especially in senior cats, is inflammatory bowel disease, which can be caused by food allergies, bacteria or immune system failure. Because inflammatory bowel system affects the digestive system, it can lead to poor digestion and nutrient absorption, as well as lymphoma, if left untreated.

Chronic cat vomiting can also be caused by hyperthyroidism, which is especially common in older cats. Symptoms include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Weight loss
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

The most serious cause of chronic cat vomiting is kidney failure, which is one of the leading causes of death in cats. Kidney failure happens gradually, not in a sudden onset of symptoms. You will notice your cat start to lose weight and eat less. Other symptoms include vomiting, excessive drinking and urination, depression and lethargy.

Healthy cats regularly vomit with no cause for concern. However, if your cat's vomiting has suddenly increased or is accompanied by other symptoms, consult your veterinarian. Chronic cat vomiting can have many simple causes, but it can also be caused by serious illnesses.